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My father died two months before my son was born. Intended, but unexpected. We got a call from the neighbor — he was in his truck, sick from carbon monoxide, and the ambulance was on its way.

I went to the bathroom and washed my hair. Kneeling beside the tub, head upside down under the faucet. Water rushing, rushing, down and over, down and over — white noise, blocking everything. Water for scrubbing and cleaning. Water for hiding. Water for controlling.

That day at the hospital would be the first of 18 we spent at my father’s bedside in the ICU. Until — finally, mercifully — what he’d set out to do was done.


Elena, the soon-to-be big sister, was the first grandchild. Before she was born, my father announced that his grandchildren would call him “Johnny.” To which my mother replied: What kind of bullshit is that?

A protest my dad masterfully re-structured by nicknaming my mom “Tootsie.” Explaining to her that, without an equally badass name to match, she’d be left in the dust of grandparent fandom. I’ll be Johnny, and you’ll be Grandma? That’s really what you want? Can we rob banks like that? Can we start a blues band like that? No, Audrey. No, we can’t.

For the 3+ years of my daughter’s life that he was alive, Johnny was a fantastic grandfather. From the night she was born, until the morning he hid — one final time — behind the big tree, hoo-hoo-ing like an owl and waiting for Elena to find him, he loved her with a warm and joyful reverence I’m certain she’ll always know.

He was the kind of grandfather every kid should have. Tender, wise, generous, funny. He patiently introduced Elena to all of the things that he loved — the blues, documentaries, gardening, reading, eating gum drops. And, of course, he adopted the things that she loved — Dora the Explorer, Polly Pockets, rocks, bugs.

All of Johnny’s grandchildren were destined to be wild about him. Destined to receive his manila envelopes of carefully curated articles in the mail, the must-read parts underlined in red. Destined to late nights of conversation, to sunset scotch patrols, to every gift a book.

Destined, until — suddenly and terribly — it would only ever be the first grandchild who knew him, was hugged by him, held by him, laughed with him, learned from him, danced with him.

To lose him was a cruel introduction to the arbitrary and sometimes ruthlessness of life. To know that my baby, still floating in an ethereal and internal salty sea, would never know him — not in the cadence of his voice, not in the strumming of his guitar, not in the warmth of fingers interlaced, not of this earth, never — was a head-spinning plot twist. A wet and heavy layer of loss draped across the whole of it.

The last two months of my pregnancy are a soggy blur of remembering and forgetting — remembering that my dad was gone, forgetting that I was pregnant. One day, a few weeks out from the due date, a good friend gave me a simple directive: go to the baby’s room and get it ready.

And so I did what I’d carefully avoided doing: on the cool and hard floor, I opened boxes of tiny socks and tiny onesies and tiny diapers. And I wept. Unrelenting, unchecked, unpacking. A crib. A bookcase. An elephant decal carefully pressed on freshly painted walls. The room, anticipating. Me, expecting. The baby would still come. No matter the pieces of me apart, no matter my heart on fire in a dark and raging vigil — no matter, no matter. The baby would still come.

On the day my father’s grandson was born, his absence was a shadow cast everywhere in the room — in the corners, on the floor, across my mother’s face. And in my arms. Where John Cormac Spencer, 7 pounds and 2 ounces of clenched-fist fight, searched for my eyes. Murky. Stunned. In love. Both of us.

We went home to begin again with a baby boy. Weeks passed. Months. Crawling turned to walking. Babble to language. Language to understanding. Understanding to questions. And nearly nine years gone now.

Without thinking about should or shouldn’t, right or wrong, psychology or style, we do what we know how to do, the only thing we can do: we tell Mac about Johnny. Not in one long litany, not as an emotionless history. In memory and in story, whenever and however, we let it come.

We tell Mac:

Johnny always wanted to have a big garden. He had all the enthusiasm and none of the whimsy. He once asked me to plant the onion starters, and when I was done, he dug them all up and replanted each one, using a ruler, exactly 6 inches apart. He was a bit of a perfectionist, just like you.

Johnny was a bluesman, and he played the guitar. If we complained or whined, he’d make up a song about our woes: Audrey’s got the dish-doing blues. Autumn’s got the grounded-again blues. Joshie’s got the dog-walking blues. He would have made up songs for you too: Mac’s got the poppy-diaper blues.

Before Tootsie was Tootsie, Johnny called her O.J., or Audgie, or Babe. Johnny to dance with Tootsie in the living room, and he was a great dancer. He would have loved your dance moves.

Johnny used to make Uncle Joshie and his friends do crazy-hard labor whenever they came to visit. He made them stack wood, and unstack wood, and re-stack wood. He made them move giant rocks. Johnny insisted Uncle Joshie and his friends do all of that. And can you believe all those guys would still come back to visit again and again? He would have put you to work with them, too.

He loved movies. Top Gun is a ridiculous story about two mischievous, prank-pulling pilots. It was Johnny’s favorite movie and, for reasons we still don’t understand, he could never get enough Maverick and Goose. He made us watch it with him repeatedly. Sorta like you and The Lego Movie.

Johnny would bring the whole bag of pretzels into the living room to watch TV with Toots. And then, just as the show would start, he’d open the crinkly bag as painstakingly slowly as he could until, finally, Tootsie would say: Jesus Christ, John. Just open the bag already!

Johnny and our family friend once put on an impromptu skit about being two gringos on a bus to Mexico. They wrapped themselves in blankets, wore hats, and put white cream on their noses like sunscreen. We laughed so hard we snorted, and cried, and peed our pants. You would’ve been rolling on the floor, it was so funny. And, Mac, your laughter would’ve made Johnny so happy.

Do you know that Johnny made us watch a 30 minute how-to video about his new weed-whacker? We still have it, if you feel like you missed out.

Johnny is the only guy on the planet who actually read the entire owner’s manual for his new desktop computer. Can you imagine? He could’ve really used your engineering, hands-on brain.

Just before Daddy and I were married, Johnny went into the empty church and sang all the verses of Amazing Grace. Some years later, he bought a documentary about the long history of that song, and insisted we all watch it together — even your sister, and she was only 2.

And on, and on, and so on.

Johnny is not all absent from Mac’s life, or any of our lives. Mac is very much like his grandfather — studious, self-starting, sentimental, discerning, comedic, convincing, a little jaunty. Yes, some of this is nature. But some is nurture. Mac’s own experiences have been nourished by a man he’s never met.

Mac has drawn and cartooned and written his way through reams of paper and into sketchbooks delivered by Santa or purchased with allowance. He’ll lose himself in the plot lines of his yarn, and in the pursuit of a flawlessly drawn jet. Head-down at the dining room table, hour after hour. Looking like Johnny in profile, echoing him in focus.

He’s written several short stories — about a cat named Adventure, a mastermind called Ida, and an unlikely and lovable hero, The Awesome Idiot. He recently read all 8 chapters and 24 pages of his latest work out loud, in the backyard, standing directly in front of me, our faces barely two feet apart.

How often I read my own stories to Johnny in exactly this way. Johnny, who would love my ideas, would love my punch-punch-punching the keys on the typewriter he’d gleefully given me. Johnny, who would listen patiently to the endless details of my angsty poetry, my righteous diatribes, my predictably cliché fables.

I try to listen to Mac’s stories as my father did mine, although I am much more easily distracted, and my patience is a never-ending struggle. And I try to tell him Johnny’s stories — so that he will always know him, always claim him as his own. His namesake, his grandfather.

We can do this, all of us who’ve lost the ones we wanted so badly to stay. We can keep them alive, we can give them shape and voice, we can introduce them to our children, and can carry them in our stories.

Johnny is very much alive — in mind, in love, in context.

When Mac was finished reading the last page of his novella — a long and winding tale of an unsuspecting dragon outsmarted by an always scheming secret agent cat and his generally dumbfounded owner — he looked up to see me watching him. Maybe guessing at the glassiness of my eyes, or maybe because he knew it to be absolutely true, he smiled broadly and said:

Johnny woulda really liked this story.

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Pop quiz, mama! How many different types of car seats are there? If you guessed three, you're partially correct. The three main types are rear-facing car seats, forward-facing car seats, and booster seats. But then there are a variety of styles as well: infant car seats, convertible seats, all-in-one seats, high-back booster seats, and backless boosters. If you're not totally overwhelmed yet, keep reading, we promise there's good stuff ahead.

There's no arguing that, in the scheme of your baby and child gear buying lifetime, purchasing a car seat is a big deal! Luckily, Walmart.com has everything you need to travel safely with your most precious cargo in the backseat. And right now, you can save big on top-rated car seats and boosters during Best of Baby Month, happening now through September 30 at Walmart.com.

As if that wasn't enough, Walmart will even take the carseat your kiddos have outgrown off your hands for you (and hook you up with a sweet perk, too). Between September 16 and 21, Walmart is partnering with TerraCycle to recycle used car seats. When you bring in an expired car seat or one your child no longer fits into to a participating Walmart store during the trade-in event, you'll receive a $30 gift card to spend on your little one in person or online. Put the money towards a brand new car seat or booster or other baby essentials on your list. To find a participating store check here: www.walmart.com/aboutbestofbabymonth

Ready to shop, mama? Here are the 9 best car seat deals happening this month.

Safety 1st Grow and Go Spring 3-in-1 Convertible Car Seat


From rear-facing car seat to belt-positioning booster, Grow and Go Sprint's got you covered through childhood. Whether you choose the grey Silver Lake, Seafarer or pink Camelia color palette, you'll love how this model grows with your little one — not to mention how easy it is to clean. The machine-washable seat pad can be removed without fussing with the harness, and the dual cup holders for snacks and drinks can go straight into the dishwasher.

Price: $134 (regularly $149)


Baby Trend Hybrid Plus 3-in-1 Booster Car Seat in Bermuda


When your toddler is ready to face forward, this versatile car seat can be used as a five-point harness booster, a high-back booster, and a backless booster. Padded armrests, harness straps, and seat cushions provide a comfy ride, and the neutral gray seat pads reverse to turquoise for a stylish new look.

Price: $72.00 (regularly $81)


Baby Trend Hybrid Plus 3-in-1 Booster Car Seat in Olivia


Looking for something snazzy, mama? This black and hot pink car seat features a playful heart print on its reversible seat pad and soft harness straps. Best of all, with its 100-pound weight limit and three booster configurations, your big kid will get years of use out of this fashionable design.

Price: $72.00 (regularly $81)


Evenflo Triumph LX Convertible Car Seat


This rear- and forward-facing car seat keeps kids safer, longer with an adjustable five-point harness that can accommodate children up to 65 lbs. To tighten the harness, simply twist the conveniently placed side knobs; the Infinite Slide Harness ensures an accurate fit every time. As for style, we're big fans of the cozy quilted design, which comes in two colorways: grey and magenta or grey and turquoise.

Price: $116 (regularly $149.99)


Disney Baby Light 'n Comfy 22 Luxe Infant Car Seat


Outfitted with an adorable pink-and-white polka dot Minnie Mouse infant insert, even the tiniest of travelers — as small as four pounds! — can journey comfortably and safely. This rear-facing design is lightweight, too; weighing less than 15 lbs, you can easily carry it in the crook of your arm when your hands are full (because chances are they will be).

Price: $67.49 (regularly $89.99)


Graco 4Ever 4-in-1 Convertible Car Seat


We know it's hard to imagine your tiny newborn will ever hit 100 lbs, but one day it'll happen. And when it does, you'll appreciate not having to buy a new car seat if you start with this 4-in-1 design! Designed to fit kids up to 120 lbs, it transforms four ways, from a rear-facing car seat to a backless belt-positioning booster. With a 6-position recline and a one-hand adjust system for the harness and headrest, you can easily find the perfect fit for your growing child.

Price: $199.99 (regularly $269.99)


Graco SlimFit All-in-One Convertible Car Seat


With its unique space-saving design, this 3-in-1 car seat provides 10% more back seat space simply by rotating the dual cup holders. The InRight LATCH system makes installation quick and easy, and whether you're using it as a rear-facing car seat, a forward-facing car seat, or a belt-positioning booster, you can feel confident that your child's safe and comfortable thanks to Graco's Simply Safe Adjust Harness System.

Price: $149.99 (regularly $229.99)


Graco Snugride Snuglock 35 Platinum XT Infant Car Seat


Making sure your infant car seat is secure can be tricky, but Graco makes it easy with its one-second LATCH attachment and hassle-free three-step installation using SnugLock technology. In addition to its safety features, what we really love about this rear-facing seat are all of the conveniences, including the ability to create a complete travel system with Click Connect Strollers and a Silent Shade Canopy that expands without waking up your sleeping passenger.

Price: $169.99 (regularly $249.99)


Graco Snugride Snuglock 35 Elite Infant Car Seat


With just one click, you can know whether this rear-facing car seat has been installed properly. Then adjust the base four different ways and use the bubble level indicator to find the proper position. When you're out and about, the rotating canopy with window panel will keep baby protected from the sun while allowing you to keep your eye on him.

Price: $129.99 (regularly $219.99)


This article was sponsored by Walmart. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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If I ever want to look alive before dropping my son off to school, there are two things I must put on before leaving the house: eyeliner and mascara. When using eyeliner, I typically use black liner on my top lid, a slightly lighter brown for my bottom lid, and then a nude liner for my water line. It works every time.

My mascara routine is a bit different. Because my natural lashes are thin and not the longest, I always opt for the darkest black I can find, and one that's lengthening and volumizing. For this reason, I was immediately drawn to It Cosmetics Lash Blowout Mascara. The new mascara is developed in partnership with Drybar (the blow dry bar that specializes in just blowouts) and promises to deliver bold and voluminous lashes all day long. I was sold.

Could this really be the blowout my lashes have been waiting for? It turns out, it was much better than most volumizing formulas I've tried.

For starters, the wand is a great size—it's not too big or small, and it's easy to grip—just like my favorite Drybar round brush. As for the formula, it's super light and infused with biotin which helps lashes look stronger and healthier. I also love that it's buildable, and I didn't notice any clumps or flakes between coats.

The real test is that my lashes still looked great at dinnertime. I didn't have smudges or the dreaded raccoon eyes I always get after a long day at work. Surprisingly, the mascara actually stayed in place. To be fair, I haven't compared them with lash-extensions (which are my new go-to since having baby number two), but I'm sure it will hold up nicely.

Overall, I was very impressed with the level of length and fullness this mascara delivered. Indeed, this is the eyelash blowout my lashes have been waiting for. While it won't give you a few extra hours in bed, you'll at least look a little more awake, mama.

It Cosmetics Lash Blowout Mascara

It Cosmetics Lash Blowout Mascara

Here's how I apply IT Cosmetics Lash Blowout Mascara:

  1. Starting as close to lash line as possible (and looking down), align the brush against your top lashes. Gradually turn upwards, then wiggle the wand back and forth up and down your eyelashes.
  2. Repeat, if needed. Tip: Be sure to allow the mascara to dry between each coat.
  3. Using the same technique, apply mascara to your bottom lashes, brushing the wand down your eyelashes.
Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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Having children isn't always as easy as it looks on Instagram. There's so much more to motherhood than serene baby snuggles and matching outfits. But there's a reason we've fallen so deeply in love with motherhood: It's the most beautiful, chaotic ride.

Every single day, we sit back and wonder how something so hard can feel so rewarding. And Eva Mendes just managed to nail the reality of that with one quote.

Eva, who is a mama to daughters Esmerelda and Amada with Ryan Gosling, got real about the messy magic of motherhood in a recent interview.

"It's so fun and beautiful and maddening," the actress tells Access Daily. "It's so hard, of course. But it's like that feeling of…you end your day, you put them to bed and Ryan and I kind of look at each other like, 'We did it, we did it. We came out relatively unscathed.'"


Eva Mendes Admits Parenting Two Girls With Ryan Gosling Is 'Fun, Beautiful And Maddening' www.youtube.com

And just like that, moms all over the world feel seen. We've all been there: Struggling to get through the day (which, for the record is often every bit as fun as it is challenging), only to put those babies to sleep and collapse on the couch in sheer exhaustion. But, after you've caught your breath, you realize just how strong and capable you really are.

One thing Eva learned the hard way? That sleep regressions are very, very real...and they don't just come to an end after your baby's first few months. "I guess they go through a sleep regression, which nobody told me about until I looked it up," she says "I was like, 'Why isn't my 3-year-old sleeping?'"

But, at the end of the day, Eva loves her life as a mom—and the fact that she took a break from her Hollywood career to devote her days to raising her girls. "I'm so thankful I have the opportunity to be home with them," she says.

Thank you for keeping it real, Eva! Momming isn't easy, but it sure is worth it.

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My labor and delivery was short and sweet. I started feeling contractions on Monday morning and by Tuesday night at 8:56 pm my handsome baby boy was born. Only 30 minutes of pushing. Afterward, I was still out of it, to be honest. I held him and did some skin to skin and handed him off to my husband, my mother held him next.

When he was in my mother's arms, I knew he was safe. I started to drift off, the epidural had me feeling drowsy and I had used up all my strength to push this 7 lb baby out. My son's eyes were open and then I guess he went to sleep too. My mother swayed him back and forth. The nurses were in and out, cleaning me up and checking in on us.


When yet another nurse came in, my mom said to her, "He wasn't latching because he wanted to sleep."

The nurse yelled, "He's not sleeping!"

The next 25 minutes happened in slow motion for me.

After the nurse said these words, she flung my son onto the little baby bed. I looked over and he looked a little blue. Then I heard the loud words of CODE PINK. In matters of seconds about 30 nursing staff descended into my room and crowded around my baby.

I couldn't even see what was happening. I tried to get out the bed but they wouldn't let me and after a couple of failed attempts one of the nurses look at me and said, "He's fine, he's breathing now."

Breathing now? He wasn't breathing before? Again, I tried to push my way to my baby, but once again I was told to not move. They had just performed CPR on my 30-minute old newborn and I couldn't understand what was happening even after a pediatrician tried to explain it to me.

I just started crying. He was fine in my stomach for 39 weeks and 6 days and now I bring him into this world and his heart nearly stops?

I was told he needed to go to the neonatal intensive care unit. I was confused, as I thought the NICU was only for preemies and my son was full term.

After what felt like an eternity we were finally allowed to see our son. My husband wheeled me there and we saw him in the corner alone. I saw the incubator and the wires, he's all bundled up.

The nurse explained all the beeping and showed me the heart rate monitor. He's doing fine. We go over the feeding schedule. I'm exhausted still. I stay with him until about 1 or 2 am. They all suggest I get some sleep. There's no bed in the NICU, so I head back to my room.

The next day was better, he doesn't have to be in the incubator anymore, but the wires remain. By that night or early the next morning, the wires in his nose come out and I try feeding him. I try pumping. It was painful.

He gets his first bath and he loves it. The nurse shampoos his hair (he had a lot!) and he seems so soothed. The nurse explains that because he's full term he doesn't need the same type of support in the NICU. She tells me my baby's strong and he'll be fine.

I look around. I see the other babies, the other moms. They could be there for weeks. And unlike me, the moms have to go home—without their baby.

Friday comes and by now he's done all his tests, blood work came back normal, all tubes have been removed and I get it. I get my going-home package. Finally. I get my instructions on doctor follow-ups and we finally get to go home.

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There have been a lot of iconic entertainment magazine covers featuring pregnant women over the years. Who can forget Demi Moore's bare baby bump on Vanity Fair or Britney Spears' similar nude pose on Harper's Bazaar?

Pregnant women on a magazine covers is nothing new, but a visibly pregnant CEO on the cover of a business magazine, that's a first and it happened this week.

Inc. just put The Wing's CEO Audrey Gelman on the cover and this is a historic moment in publishing and business.

As Gelman told Today this week, "You can't be what you can't see, so I think it's so important for women to see that it's possible to run a fast-growing business and also to start a family."



She continued: "It's so important to sort of burst that bubble and to have new images of women who are thriving and working professionally while balancing motherhood … My hope is that women see this and again feel the confidence to take greater professional risks while also not shelving their dreams of becoming a mother and starting a family."

The Wing started in 2016 as a co-working space for women and has grown rapidly. As Inc. reports, The Wing has eight locations in the U.S. with plans for more American and international locations by 2020.

Putting Gelman on the cover was an important move by Inc. and Gelman's honesty about her early pregnancy panic ("I can't be pregnant. I have so much to do." she recalls thinking after her pregnancy test) should be applauded.

Gelman says pregnancy made her slow down physically, and that it was actually good for her company: "I had this realization: The way to make my team and my employees feel proud to work for me and for the company was actually not to pretend to be superhuman or totally unaffected by pregnancy."

We need this. We need CEOs to admit that they are human so that corporate leadership can see employees as humans, too. Humans need things like family leave and flexibility, especially when they start raising little humans.

There are a lot of iconic covers featuring pregnant women, but this one is different. She's wearing clothes and she's changing work culture.

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